Gelli Hir – A Woodland Haven for Wildlife & the Community: Transition into Spring

Gelli Hir Volunteers and their work

Gelli Hir Volunteers and their work

Last time I wrote about this project funded by Enovert Community Trust (formerly Cory Environmental Trust in Britain) we had just spent a very wet early January upgrading one of the footpaths making the reserve more accessible. As bird nesting season approached with the coming spring we turned our focus to finishing the habitat works. Through February we held five community coppicing days where WTSWW volunteers, members of the local community and participants from the Actif Woods project (which addresses mental and physical well-being) came together to cut this year’s coppice coup. Coppice materials were cut, gathered and sorted -  hazel rods were taken to the Cardiff RHS show to build the low woven fences for the WTSWW show garden, the cordwood has been extracted and we have so far had two charcoal burns to supply customers with our Gower Charcoal this summer.

In order to encourage people to linger and enjoy the benefits of being in a woodland environment, we have installed five benches. These were made and installed by volunteers who also chose the locations. They gave thought to making the most of different aspects of the reserve.

As the path settled in it became apparent it needed a little more surfacing material. Unfortunately the project budget allocated to this had all been spent so we are very grateful to Selwyn’s Seaweed Ltd (who have a shellfish processing plant on North Gower) for the donation of two trailer loads of cockle shells. These were barrowed out by volunteers.

In early May we took the opportunity to lead a walk for the WTSWW Swansea local group around the reserve to show off our hard work. Spending time in the woods meeting more of the reserve users has given us the opportunity to collect feedback regarding the changes we have been making. I’m pleased to say that it has all been very positive and it has also been nice to be able to explain to people the reasons for the coppicing, thinning and other habitat work we carry out continually. More recently we lead two “wildlife & wellbeing walks” one for Killay library Walking Group and one as part of the Gower Walking Festival.

It had always been part of the plan to erect a forestry barn as part of the project. The build happened in mid-June. Discretely tucked away beneath the trees and constructed by staff and volunteers it should prove an asset to our activities.

Thanks to all those involved in volunteering for their efforts, the reserve users for the feedback, to Enovert Community Trust for the funding and to Selwyn’s for the donation of cockle shells.

For more information contact Paul p.thornton@welshwildlife.org

-Paul Thornton

Gelli Hir Volunteers and their work